Mass Start Win: Nove Mesto Hat Trick for Martin
Martin Fourcade of France won today’s 15K mass start, with one penalty in 36:18.9, giving him a hat trick sweep of the competitions in Nove Mesto na Moravě and his seventh victory of the season. Germany’s Simon Schempp finished in a season-best second place, with two penalties, 8.3 seconds back. Third went to Russia’s Anton Babikov, with one penalty, 9.4 seconds back.
Ondřej Moravec, who broke his rifle stock yesterday in a fall, finished fourth, with two penalties, 9.7 seconds back. Ukraine’s Dmytro Pidruchnyi was fifth, with one penalty, 10.2 seconds back while Babikov’s teammate Maxim Eliseev finished sixth, with two penalties, 11 seconds back.
Penalty Equals a 22-Second Gap
The last competition day was basically a carbon copy of the other four days: cloudy, almost windless, temperature at plus 3C and another packed stadium.
A slow first loop kept the field close as they came into the stadium for the first prone. As quickly as they came to the range, Anton Shipulin led a train of fifteen clean shooters, all within 16 seconds out on the second loop. Fourcade and Simon Eder were safely tucked in behind Shipulin. This big group held together over the next loop. Shipulin and Fourcade each had penalties, passing the lead to Eder who typically shot fast; Pidruchnyi followed just behind the Austrian. Now the lead group was just eight men, all within 10 seconds. The Yellow Bib now had 22 second to make up over the next 3K loop before the first standing stage.
The usually calm and collected Fourcade could feel the tension today. “It was really exciting: a tense competition. I was a nervous on the shooting range; I think everyone felt it."
Fourcade Cleans; Pulls Away
Fourcade was back with the group and shot clean very fast as did Pidruchnyi, Babikov now in second and Jean Guillaume Beatrix in fifth. Fourcade left in third but quickly resumed the lead and gradually pulled away from the field. The local fans were thrilled as Moravec was in fourth position, with a single penalty through three stages.
In the last standing, Fourcade came in with a 10 second lead, shot slower than in the first standing, but cleaned and left with 27 seconds on the field. Totally in control, Fourcade cruised the last loop for his seventh win of the season.
Regarding his domination on the tracks, he said, “Yesterday and today I felt really good on the skis. I feel like I can push so hard and recover fast…I have had a fantastic start of the season.”
The Streak and Christmas
With the holidays coming up and no competitions for two plus weeks, he added, “I am a little sad now that the break is coming, because I don't want this to stop... also Christmas means eating a lot of chocolate so I'll come back on tour in poor shape! (Laugh) But jokes aside, I am happy to see my daughter again and spend some time with my family".
Schempp and Babikov
Babikov and Moravec and Boe followed Fourcade on the last loop. However, Boe fell just past 13.3K, lost a pole and his podium chance. That changed everything as Babikov moved into second and Schempp moved in just behind. They held those spots, completing the podium.
Babikov was not disappointed with third place. "I am very happy today I had enough strength to finish with two athletes as strong as Martin and Simon."
Schempp Totally Happy
Schempp was thrilled with his second place. “It's so good to be back on the podium, today it was even better than yesterday, even if I wasn't as precise on the shooting range. I am totally happy with the 2nd place… from race to race my shape is coming back, but now I am looking forward to the next 2 weeks of training.”